10/7/09: Zanzibar, Tanzania
It’s been almost a month since we left the States, and we’ve yet to buy much of anything. Zhou’s been granted a few shillings here and there to pick up earrings and a sarong, but I’ve managed to even escape buying a new shirt despite the pleas of Zhou and everyone else on the truck. So by my count before today we’ve spent exactly $6.34 on unnecessary souvenirs on our trip (or, more precisely, Zhou’s spent that much).
Today though, we let our eyes get the best of us (is that even a saying?).
Actually, it all started yesterday as we were walking around Stone Town looking for an internet café with flash so we could upload some blog posts. We allowed one of the merciless salesmen to coerce us into walking into his store, where thousands of paintings hung on the tens of square feet of wall space.
Shoot, let me back the story up one more time. Zhou always says that I’m too nice to merchants who I have no intention of buying anything from. I’ll talk to them for hours if they want, up until the point where they want to sell me something, at which point I’ll either lie (“Sure, we’ll drop by your store right after we use the internet”) or make up an excuse (“Sorry, we’re travelling for a while and don’t have room in our packs for your unbelievably gorgeous merchandise”). Either way though, I usually use the wrong lie (the merchant will wait outside the internet café the entire hour we’re in there, then hunt us down when we try to sneak out the back door) or excuse (they’re selling a bracelet which goes on Zhou’s wrist, not in our packs) and then I simply run away.
Now that we’ve got that background out of the way, I was simply appeasing this particular merchant, knowing that neither Zhou nor I wanted to buy a painting. (a) They’re too expensive and (b) we’re planning on decorating our mansion when we return with all our own photography from the trip.
Then we walked inside, and I immediately realized we would probably end up buying one painting.
One day, three merchants, and five paintings later, we left Stone Town with a much lighter wallet, a much more sheepish Kevin, and a much happier Zhou.
Up until this point I have always wondered how come everyone on our trip has seemed to buy trinkets at every store they visit, but now I realize that even I can succumb to these impulses. I was very impressed by the quality of the paintings, and even realizing that they probably look better in the store than they will at home, it just seems cool to have real African art. Through using the negotiating skills she honed at the equator and using me as the impatient husband (“C’mon dear, this isn’t working. Let’s go check out a few other shops.”), Zhou haggled us a price that even me, the Scrooge of American round-the-world travel, couldn’t pass up.
Shortly after this purchase, several of our friends from our tour also bought paintings from this store. Two didn’t see the exact one they wanted, so the merchant / painter sat down outside and painted to their specifications. It was really cool to watch him work, and in less than a half hour he had completed both works of art.
Scrabble Picture: The lack of two z’s in the bag didn’t stop us from taking this awesome shot.
Update: Finally, we played a game of 99-tile Scrabble! Zhou won 412 – 338, and we each bingoed twice. Those of you holding your breath for this can now exhale.
Picture of the Day: I carried the Olympic torch all the way to Zanzibar!